Click the photo to view a slideshow. All photos by Michael Alan Goldberg.
Hempfest started off on a sour note for me: There perhaps 10>"/>
Hempfest started off on a sour note for me: There perhaps 10 minutes, I made my way into a tent where a bunch of pro-pot folks were doing a panel discussion. As I stood there getting my camera out and finding the proper lens, someone came up behind me and gave me a shove. "Dude, get the hell out of my way, I've got a camera running." I turned around, startled, to see some ancient hippie dude glowering at me, and pointing to his even more ancient videocamera -- I think it might have been Beta. No excuse me, no nothin' -- I thought hippies were supposed to be nice and chill?
Anyway, the day got better from there, probably because as the morning hours turned to afternoon, everyone was too baked to get confrontational. A giant weed cloud hung in the air, thousands of people were either openly smokin' up on the grounds of Myrtle Edwards Park, or on the beach and on the rocks, staring out at the dozen or so sailboats (and one idle police boat) anchored in the bay. Anything weed-related you could buy -- bongs, pipes, T-shirts, "Reefer Magnets," Legalize It spring water...no merchandising stone was left unturned. The crowd was a quarter crusty hippies, a quarter crusty street punks and rasta types, a quarter fratboys and sorority girls, and a quarter stroller-pushers and 9-to-5-lookin' businessfolk in Dockers and REI-wear. Most everyone I chatted with was laid-back and friendly.
There was good music -- I particularly enjoyed the grooves of reggae legend Pato Banton, Hempfest "house band" the Herbivores, and Tacoma metalheads American Wrecking Co. (although I got clobbered in the back of the head when a small but exceptionally violent circle mosh pit broke out during their set). Intermittent rain didn't seem to spoil anyone's fun -- they just smoked more weed and let the drops roll off their backs. Lines for roasted corn and other foodstuffs were, naturally, quite long. And as you can probably imagine, the plethora of speakers taking one of the three stages throughout the day and calling for the decriminalization of marijuana ranged from sensible and pragmatic to ranty and paranoid.
One of my favorite moments of the day? Two old burnouts were standing next to a guy who was selling laminated color photos of pot plants for $10 each. One of them remarked to the seller, "Man, back in my day you could buy a whole goddamn plant for $10, now for $10 you can only buy a picture of one."